Rural communities in Missouri have been experiencing record-high infection and death rates due to COVID-19. Critically ill patients from rural areas are sent to urban hospitals for more advanced treatments, causing strain on hospital capacities and staffing. These areas are particularly unadapted for the pandemic as many counties do not enforce social distancing and masking mandates. Furthermore, many of the rural hospitals do not have any intensive care unit beds, and many hospitals have shut down over the past few years. In addition, these communities tend to be older individuals and those who suffer from chronic health conditions. Read the full NPR article by Alex Smith here.